Religious order produces show on Broadway — and it bombs

In fact, it was one of the biggest duds of the Broadway season: a musical version of the 1992 Steve Martin movie “Leap of Faith,” about a con artist turned preacher.

The expensive, long-aborning show is closing this weekend, after a very brief run — and this piece in the New York Times dissects what went wrong (almost everything, it turns out).

To my surprise, buried near the bottom was this nugget:

Dozens of producers and investors in “Leap” lost money, including the Passionists, a financially struggling Roman Catholic order that invested $50,000 in the show. A leader of the order, the Rev. Edward Beck, said on Wednesday that he had hoped the show would run through the Tonys but was at peace with the decision to close.

“In its short run ‘Leap of Faith’ still touched thousands with a message of hope and belief, and most of those are people we could never have touched inside a church,” he said. “I had my own fantasy about actually winning for best musical. That would have been the perfect justification for ‘keeping the faith.’ But, alas, the money simply ran out.”

Has a religious order ever been involved before in producing a Broadway musical?  That, it seems to me, is a story unto itself.  I’d be curious to know more.

Comments

  1. I was in junior high when the film was released, and i sort of remember it being a flop as well. Then, of course, there’s also the question of a religious order diverting funds and efforts to broadway. Not to play Judas here, but that’s 50 large that could’ve done a lot of good elsewhere.

  2. That’s too bad. I liked that movie. I especially liked the soundtrack to that movie.

  3. Deacon,

    Here is a News segment from CBS This Morning on the Order and Leap of Faith…

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7406860n&tag=contentMain;contentBody

  4. Kathy Schiffer says:

    I recall that the Priests of the Sacred Heart, the order which supported itself selling dashboard statues in an earlier age, branched out into movie making, and they made “Spitfire Grill.” They used the money it brought in to build a Catholic high school in the South. It’s a movie well worth watching, I think!

  5. When the time is right they should try again, maybe with a different play. The theatre is a beautiful expression of art and live performances do touch hearts. Evangelization takes many forms. If I was the Passionists I wouldn’t be too discouraged.

  6. I understand what you’re saying, but don’t see how this is any different than an order of Wyoming Carmelite monks selling coffee. Investing in art, such as this, is a wonderful way to “do business”. However, like all business, it’s a gamble.

  7. pagansister says:

    The Broadway show “The Book of Mormon” seems to have done well. Maybe it was curiosity about the LDS church that drew some to that play.

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